'Am I too old?' and other fitness questions

I wanted to share some of my Frequently Asked Questions from people that come in to see me for the first time.

Am I too old to start an exercise program?

Absolutely not! No one is too old to start a regular, consistent, and progressive exercise program. Everyone begins where they are and builds from there. The older you get the faster you lose your fitness. It takes only two weeks of not doing anything to lose all that you’ve built up, especially if you are over 60. You cannot store fitness: you need to lead an active lifestyle to prevent disease and stave off the aging process.

Am I too out of shape to join a fitness program?

Absolutely not! No one is too out of shape to start a regular, consistent and progressive exercise program. Everyone begins where they are and builds on that base. Just look at how much more deconditioned you’d be next year if you keep doing the same thing that you are doing now. A good personal trainer can help you start and progress you with baby steps until you build a great strength base. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing that you are doing and expecting different results.

I am having a knee replacement in three months, is exercise right for me?

Absolutely. When you strengthen the muscles around the joint that is to be replaced, your recovery is so much faster. Even if your joint is not able to support your weight, we can work you differently and not put added stress on that joint that is in a weakened state. Most surgeons recommend a rigid pre-surgery exercise regime.

I don’t want to bulk up – how can I avoid that?

Believe me, you will not accidently bulk up. It takes a very strict program of heavy weights and low reps to actually bulk up. You will gain definition and become a lot stronger while adding lots of lean body mass. Fat is inactive and it does nothing for your body, while lean body mass is actually moving and takes lots of calories to support it. You will change your body composition so that you might not lose pounds on the scale, but the inches will disappear. Yes, muscle weighs more than fat and it takes up less space so you might weigh the same but wear a smaller size.

Do I have to change my eating?

You don’t have to, but ... 80 percent of fitness comes from what you put in your mouth. You cannot out-train a bad diet. Portion control might be your first step. We recommend a food log so that we can see what you are eating and then we advise you on the things that you are putting in your body that might be sabotaging your hard work.

I have osteoarthritis: is exercise right for me?

Exercise is the best thing for osteoarthritis. If you don’t move those joints, you’ll seize up and you won’t be able to do anything. Remember, you start slowly and build up to vigorous exercise. Often times you can help osteoarthritis by eliminating certain foods from your diet. The longer you hold off on getting into a regular, consistent and progressive exercise program the harder it will be to undo the attacks of osteoarthritis. There is a saying: Use it or lose it!

What is functional training and how does it differ from traditional training?

Functional fitness focuses on movements or programs that lead to greater enhancement in performance, or human function. Functional fitness programs help people do what they want to do, what they enjoy doing, and what they dream of doing with greater ease, less pain and higher levels of proficiency. Traditional training was always focused on the under-45, vanity, weight-loss and image side of fitness. We as functional aging specialists understand that aging is mandatory, but growing old is optional. Improving functional fitness is critical to living a long, healthy and enjoyable life. Traditional resistance training does not maximize function.

If your question isn’t answered on this list, please feel free to contact me at bonnie@bfitandwell.com or call or text 907-229-7652. I will get back to you with your answer.

Bonnie Murphy is an Anchorage fitness instructor and owner of Bfit and Well studio, and the author of the functional fitness book “Young Longer.”

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